Objective—To develop a reverse transcriptase-polymerase
chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay to detect feline
herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) latency-associated transcripts
(LATs) in the corneas and trigeminal ganglia of cats
that did not have clinical signs of ocular disease.
Sample Population—Corneas and trigeminal ganglia
obtained from 21 cats necropsied at the Indiana
Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and 25 cats
euthanatized at a humane shelter; none of the cats
had a recent history of respiratory tract or ocular disease,
and all had normal results for ophthalmic examinations.
Procedure—Both corneas and both trigeminal ganglia
were harvested from each cat. An initial PCR assay
detected FHV-1 DNA in the corneas and trigeminal
ganglia. The RNA was then isolated from samples
positive for FHV-1 DNA, and an RT-PCR assay was
used to detect LATs.
Results—FHV-1 DNA was detected in 45 of 92
(48.9%) corneas and 38 of 92 (41.3%) trigeminal ganglia.
In many samples, the RNA had degraded and RTPCR
assay was not possible. Of the samples subjected
to RT-PCR assay, none of the 39 corneas but 4 of
16 trigeminal ganglia had positive results when tested
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Analysis of
the results indicated that a high percentage of cats
that did not have clinical signs of ocular disease had
detectable FHV-1 DNA in their corneas and trigeminal
ganglia. This study documents that the RT-PCR assay
can successfully identify LATs and may serve as a
tool to better understand the biologic characteristics
of FHV-1 and its relationship to clinical disease. ( Am J Vet Res 2004;65:314–319)